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What is Mammogram?

A mammogram is a black-and-white image of your breast used to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms play a key role in early breast cancer detection and help decrease breast cancer deaths.
During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces in order to spread out the breast tissue. Then, an X-ray captures images of your breasts that a doctor uses to detect changes and cancer.
A mammogram can be used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes. How often you should have a mammogram depends on your age and your risk of breast cancer.


Why it is done?

Mammography is X-ray imaging of your breasts designed to detect tumors and other abnormalities. Mammography can be used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes in evaluating a breast lump.
Some general guidelines for when to begin screening mammography include:

  • If you have an average risk of breast cancer, discuss when to begin mammograms with your doctor. Many women begin mammograms at age 40 and have them every one to two years.
  • If you have a high risk of breast cancer, you may benefit by beginning screening mammograms before age 40. Talk to your doctor for an individualized program

How to Prepare for Mammogram

Schedule the test for a time when your breasts are least likely to be tender. If you haven't gone through menopause, that's usually during the week after your menstrual period. Your breasts are most likely to be tender the week before and the week during your period.

Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts. Metallic particles in powders and deodorants could be visible on your mammogram and cause confusion.

Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), about an hour before your mammogram might ease the discomfort of the test.